It’s All About the Sauce

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 29 May 2012.

Kate’s Post. 
When mom and I were trying to think of what to post next, I went through all of the foods that grandma made that I miss. Rhubarb was the first to pop in my head. I don’t think I have had Rhubarb Sauce since the last time she made it. Her rhubarb was like her apple sauce and strawberry jam, if it was not canned right away, it was devoured faster than it was made. 

The rhubarb was not just any rhubarb, but picked from a garden that sat almost on the property line between Grandma and Poppa’s house and Frank’s house. It was planted and cared for by Frank up until he died. It is my understanding that he planted it for grandma. Frank in the eyes of a young child was an interesting man, who would show up at the door off of the patio, and from time to time Grandma Marie would bring him baked goods. I remember the time he showed me the “famous” train set after I had gone over there with grandma to deliver some of the latest sweets that come from the oven. Well, back to the rhubarb. Picking the rhubarb was one of the jobs that Grandma allowed the grandchildren to do. We would go out with her and pick what we would need, go back into the house, and she would bake a pie with it, or make what I remember most, the sauce. 

It was never too sweet or too bitter and I looked forward to it. I would always watch her, trying to take it all in, how she would move through each step of the process. I wanted to be able to cook just like Grandma Marie. 

While we don’t have the recipe that Grandma Marie used (Grandma! Where is your recipe box?), we found this one in the cookbook that she must have received as a wedding present: The Settlement Cook Book. The way to a man’s heart, published in 1944. On pages 333-334 is this method:


No. 1. Sauce

Wash, cut off leaves and stem ends of rhubarb. If tender, do not peel. Cut in 1/2 inch pieces. To 4 cups of rhubarb, take 2 cups of sugar; or pour boiling water over the rhubarb, let stand 5 minutes, drain, and use only 1 1/2 cups sugar. Place in saucepan with just enough water to keep from burning; cook until soft. Flavor with grated yellow rind of orange. Or, boil 2 cups sugar and 1 cup water to a syrup, add rhubarb, let boil a few minutes until tender, but not broken.

Bread Revisited

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 27 May 2012.

Looking through recipes for the perfect one to match Kate’s upcoming post, I ran across two pieces of paper. I had to laugh out loud. They were both recipes for bread, and reading through them I could just see Hank also finding them, and cursing Marie in Hank fashion for writing them in “code.”

I just had to share. 

And don’t tell Hank but here’s the secret: “…12-14 cups of flour in sponge then not quite so much, you can tell – guessing 10-12.”  

The Holiday Table

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 25 May 2012.

Many memories were made in Butch and Marie’s dining room  sitting around the table. This table that groaned with food at every holiday and many days in between was one of the first purchases that they made for their new home. The table with its six chairs was purchased on May 20, 1947, shortly after celebrating their first anniversary. What a lot of memories were made that included this $252.00 purchase!

This is where it all happened. Photos with birthday cakes, homework, a dumping place between the kitchen and the family room, plus a special place under the pads for things that needed to be quickly and easily saved. Checking under the pads this past week (I had taken a tip from Marie and tucked any found cash under a pad so that we wouldn’t lose it in all of the shuffle and bustle of taking the household inventory), I found the last items that she had tucked away. Included among the expected receipts, was a large photograph of herself with Mike that someone had printed for her from their computer, a thank you note from Bryan, and the thank you note from Jillian’s wedding, along with a photograph of Jillian’s parents from that day. Special things that needed to be treasured and remembered. 

I love this 1963 picture of Butch, Marie and Duff. What makes it so unusual is that there are so few pictures of BOTH Butch and Marie sitting at table. I wonder what the occasion was, but it must have been something special as Marie was using her good china, and the table is laden with food. (Notice the doilies in the corner cabinets, just like they are today).

The recipe that I have chosen for this post is a later addition to our holiday menu. A recipe that was chosen with her grandchildren in mind. Along with the bird, ham, the stuffing, potatoes, homemade cloverleaf roles, cranberry nut bread, and we can’t forget the bowl of black olives – filled to the brim so that Kimberly could have one for every finger, she had added “Mandarin Orange Salad.” It soon became an expected part of the holiday table.

These pictures were taken December 24, 1991, and Butch is taking the photos. As they did in the picture with Duff, Butch and Marie always shared the head of the table, Marie always on the side nearest the kitchen so she could get up and out as needed. 

The amount of food that could be produced and most importantly served hot, in that small, but for Marie, efficient kitchen. We will spend a lot of time in the kitchen as we move forward, but one holiday memory from me. It was Thanksgiving 1987, my first Thanksgiving at the Fassbenders. One way she had of making the magic happen was cooking the turkey in a Nesco placed in the utility room. As Marie finished the final prep in the kitchen it was Butch’s job to start carving in the utility room. They set up a card table and pulled the bird out. Trying to be helpful, I joined him at the carving station. As he pulled the perfectly beautiful, amazing crisp skin off the bird and set it aside to throw away, I snatched a piece. Looking at me in amazement, he realized he had a partner in crime, and helped himself to some. We continued with our task of carving the bird, but with a newfound shared secret. Now if I had only taken him up on his challenge to get me into the driver’s seat of one of the White Clover trucks…

The Dining Room today. Quiet. Just the ghost of laughter, and the smell of favorite food.
St. Francis Catholic Church Our Favorite Recipes, 1988, p. 19

The Kitchen is the Place for Celebrations

This archived post is the first that I wrote for “The Aroma of Bread,” and was published 23 May 2012. It seems that I had high hopes for participation.

Four months ago we celebrated Marie’s life as family and friends gathered for a final farewell. As it usually does, the topic soon turned to bread. Not just any bread, but Marie’s famous loaves. The best bread stories are told by the the family of Butch’s younger sister, and that day was no exception. The first bread story was told by Mike. The family drove up to Hollandtown from Rockford on a fairly regular basis, and on one particular visit, Syd must have had a lead foot as they arrived to find Marie still on her hands and knees scrubbing the kitchen floor.

This past Saturday, May 19th we celebrated. We honored two people who mean so much to us. Butch and Marie Fassbender, Mom and Dad, Grandma and Grandpa, Grandma Marie and Poppa. As the weekend was all about memories, my family gathered at our table for dinner and talked some more. This time the conversation turned to Marie’s recipes that we have been gathering and scanning. I am still hoping to find her index card box which contains so many handwritten favorites, but we have made a start with her cookbooks, and all the recipes that have a handwritten notation. 

This blog is for us, her family. As we scan a batch of recipes they will be first posted here for you to comment on – share your memories of your favorites. We will then include these memories in the printed version.

But! She was not totally unprepared as the house was filled with the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread, and the counters were filled with the mornings baking. Standing in the entry, Mike yelled: “Hey Marie! Throw me a loaf!” And she did. The kids high-tailed it off to the factory for some fresh butter, and a favorite snack.

But the story that had us laughing till tears were streaming down our face was one that Kady shared. Her mother Hank was determined to learn the secret to Marie’s bread. There HAD to be a secret as she was not able to come close to producing a loaf as fine as her sister-in-laws. On another visit, Hank found herself alone in the house, Marie had gone somewhere – possibly to the grocery store, so Hank set out to determine the magic ingredient. She opened every cupboard, scanned the labels of every block of yeast, looked at the brand of flour, the type of bowl, the size of the loaf pan, and she also hunted for the recipe. We could just see her, one ear cocked for the slam of a car door, snooping and looking, and digging in the cupboards. Frustrated that she was coming up empty.

Marie just had a knack. She made bread by “feel.” She added flour till it “felt” right, and to watch her in front of her huge bowl (a bowl almost as big as she was) as she kneaded, and kneaded that dough, was something to see. I believe the magic ingredient was her love. What is your favorite bread story? Please share in the comment section below.

The following recipe is not THE bread recipe, but one that Marie deemed: “(Good)”

St. Mary’s Hilbert Cookbook, 1970ca, p. 1

The 4th of July is for Celebrations

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 2 July 2012.

Any excuse for a party. Life was for working hard, and when the time was right, relaxing well with family and friends.

As we approach July 4th, my mind wandered to some pictures that I recently catalogued. To celebrate July 4, 1948, the family gathered in Dundas, at the home of Cub and Dolores. They set up an assortment of chairs in what appears to have been their side yard. The kids played, the dog did tricks, and everyone waited for the parade to start.

The Vande Yacht’s dog was a great one for tricks, and he was soon providing entertainment.

The kids started to get excited as the sounds of the parade became louder. White Clover Dairy’s entry this year was a truck carrying a large cow, and a sign that read: “Honest This is no BULL” WHITE CLOVER DAIRY is the BEST MARKET for your MILK.

Asking Gary if he remembers one special recipe that his mother would consistently bring to/make for, outdoor gatherings, his answer was rolls. She was known for her amazing hamburger and brat buns. Starting a few days before the party, she would start baking, making dozens of rolls. I am sure that she put in more hours of preparation for a “simple” outdoor gathering than any other person attending the party. 

For this post, I have chosen a fruity bar recipe. Although I don’t remember ever having eaten it, Marie marked it as “V. Good.”

St. Mary’s Hilbert Cookbook, 1970s

It’s the Whisky

This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 19 Jun 2012.

I was reading Dick Eastman’s Newsletter this morning and I read an article about the original recipe for Jack Daniel’s being found in a Welsh book of herbal remedies. Presumably, John ‘Jack the Lad’ Daniel’s left Wales for Lynchburg, Tennessee and was not heard from after a few letters. It was during this period that Jack Daniel’s Whisky was born. 

While this is not a recipe from Marie’s collection, it is a post that was inspired by a recipe, the recipe for Jack Daniel’s.  Butch enjoyed whisky, be it Jack Daniel’s or the brand he drank most often in his later years, Early Times. An Early Times and seltzer was a great way to start an evening out with friends.

In late summer 1949, probably in September, Butch and Marie joined Otto and Cel Hannen on a road trip to New Orleans. On their way south, they stopped at the Cherokee Dam on the Holston River in East Tennessee. The dam had been built recently, being completed in 1942, and we all know that Butch would have found the whole mechanics of it fascinating. In the hotel room that night, they enjoyed a night cap of whiskey – for this occasion they chose Jim Beam.

We always had a bottle of whiskey in the bar, ready for a visit from Butch. In 2000 when I was looking for a bottle of whisky to use in a new recipe, I pulled out the Early Times. It is the perfect whiskey for this recipe.

Grilled Orange-and-Bourbon Salmon

Description: Charlene Schubert, Alpharatta, GA, Cooking Light Magazine, June 1999, page 142


  • ¼ cup Bourbon
  • ¼ cup Fresh Orange Juice
  • ¼ cup Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
  • ¼ cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • ¼ cup Chopped Green Onions
  • 3 Tbsp Chopped Fresh Chives
  • 2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, chopped
  • 4 (6-ounce) Salmon Fillets (About 1 Inch Thick)
  • Cooking Spray


Combine first 8 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag, and add salmon to bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 ½ hours, turning bag occasionally.

Prepare grill or broiler.

Remove salmon from bag, reserving marinade. Place salmon on a grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Cook 6 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting frequently with reserved marinade.

NOTE: This recipe is the best with a lesser grade of bourbon, such as Butch’s favorite: Early Times